Salesforce has just posted the release notes for the Winter 13 release and despite the terrible logo (I definitely preferred the Game of Thrones one better) it is full of some great features. I’m sure they’ll be hyping some of these up – and more – at Dreamforce, but here’s a quick list of the ones that caught my attention.
- Salesforce Communities – Salesforce had some press coverage about this a few weeks back, and it’s officially a Pilot feature in Winter 13. Looking at where Chatter, Sites.com and the portal strategy has been going, I’d say it was inevitable that salesforce would launch a community feature and now it’s here. Not a lot of details in the release notes, but this is sure to be one they show off at Dreamforce. Looks like this can work in and outside of your customer portal, so this could be a very strong offering.
- Shared Activities for Events – This was always a big one on Ideas with a lot of votes, so good to see it rolled out. You can now add up to 10 Contacts (and they specify Contacts, so not sure if this works on Leads) onto a single Event Activity.
- Salesforce for Outlook Enhancements – A pretty cool feature is in Beta for Outlook which salesforce refers to as “Viewing Your Salesforce World in Microsoft Outlook”. Talk about a feature in need of a new name. Despite the name, this has a lot of promise, in that it allows you to view the salesforce Contact and/or Lead information in a side panel when looking at an email in Outlook. From this panel you can add an email, see activities, and do some other functions. In addition to the panel you can now Sync Recurring Events. Overall, it’s good to see salesforce expanding the Outlook functionality, as those really are the 2 main tools of most users.
- Email Drafts for Service Cloud – Service Cloud users now have the ability to save a draft of their email (seems small, but this was a big need). In addition, you can enable Approvals off of these email drafts. This will be a great feature. Unfortunately, it’s only available if you use the Case Feed.
- Public KB Links on Articles – Currently, Service Users have no way of getting the link of an article from the Public KB when they are within salesforce. This is frustrating as they can shoot a link over to a customer easily. Looks like this will be fixed in Winter 13, but again, unfortunately, it’s only available if you use the Case Feed.
- Case Feed Improvements – I already mentioned the 2 reasons above to jump to Case Feed, and they’ve also added some other improvements. With Winter 13, salesforce expands out the flexibility of the Case Feed in several places, added Live Agent Transcripts and Social Posts to the feed, updated the look and feel (see below) and introduced a “Smart” Email Templates functionality that allows you to pre-load templates to allow agents to reply quicker. Clearly, this is the direction salesforce is going to be pushing Service Users to go. If you’re a Service Cloud user and you haven’t enabled Case Feed, with this release, it’s probably time to start taking a harder look at it.
- Improvements to Team Selling – Opportunity Teams received a big make-over. Looks like the Team object is now much more robust and flexible allowing you to add Custom Fields to it as well as modify the related list for it. In addition, it received some automation where you can email team members, alert other members when a new member is added and also track time spent on the Opportunity. (no idea why this is only limited to Opportunities. Cases, with Case Teams, could really use this as well!). Finally a lot of additional reporting functionality has been added around this. Good to see the changes, and this will certainly be one we explore more.
- Improved Data Category Visibility for KB – A big improvement to the security model for Data Categories is in Winter 13. You can now do this at the Profile level (a huge fix if you have High Volume Portal users as they have no roles!). Also works with Permission Sets.
- Hotkeys for Service Console – Let’s Service Console users create their own hot keys for different actions like go to Details tab or Go to the List View. Will be interesting to see how details we can make these actions, but seconds count when an agent is on the phone, so every little bit helps.
- Chatter Enhancements – Nothing major, but a bunch of smaller chatter enhancements:
- Chatter Polls – Allows users to create and Share polls over Chatter
- Chatter Desktop 3.0 – This is actually already live and available, but the new version of Chatter Desktop now supports Chatter Messenger and allows you to view fields attached to Comments.
- Chat History for Chatter Messenger
- Chatter in People Hovers – In forecasts, you can hover over a User Name and be able to start a Chatter session
- A bunch of new options for Reporting on Chatter
- Joined Reports improvements – You can now print and export Joined Reports as well as put them on a Dashboard.
- Geolocation Custom fields – Not a feature a lot of people will use, but an interesting one in Beta. You can use these fields to calculate the distance between locations. Could be very useful for search results of related records.
One missing feature was a bit of a surprise and that is significant improvements to Touch. It’s still in Beta and it’s still not customizable. I had thought for sure, this would be one of the big ones salesforce would show off at Dreamforce and would want it rolled out right after. Hopefully the next release.